Die for Me is the first novel in the Revenants trilogy by Amy Plum. I’m going to a book signing for Ms. Plum next week (WHEEE!) and really wanted to have read her book before meeting her in person. Unfortunately, it’s not looking like I’ll be able to squeeze in book 2, Until I Die, before the event, but at least I now know who the characters are and what the basic story is.
Die for Me is the story of Kate Mercier, recent orphan and new Paris resident. She and her sister, Georgia, moved to Paris following the death of their parents in a tragic car accident. Kate hasn’t been dealing with the loss well, and spends her days secluded in her bedroom in their grandparents’ house, reading books and wallowing in depression.
Eventually, her sister convinces her to venture out of the house and experience the beauty of the city. Kate begrudgingly takes her up on her advice, and winds up meeting a tall, dark and handsome boy named Vincent. Vincent and Kate begin a tentative courtship, but almost immediately, Kate realizes that there’s more to Vincent than meets the eye.
Shocked, Kate learns that Vincent is in fact a Revenant: an immortal being who feels the irresistible compulsion to sacrifice his life saving humans. He lives with a group of fellow Revenants in a giant Parisian mansion, and the group of them wander the city, looking for people to save. When they trade their own life for a human’s, they take 3 days to mend, then come back to life, good as new.
But no sooner has Kate absorbed the information that her boyfriend is an immortal kinda-zombie, than a darker truth is revealed: Vincent and his kindred are not the only Revenants. There are others. Except that they don’t feel a compulsion to save human lives; they feel the compulsion to end them.
I have mixed feelings on this one. First, the plot point comparisons to Twilight are abundant and fairly obvious. I’m not going to go into the minutia in detail, because others have already done so (see examples here and here). Personally, I don’t actually mind if one book is really reminiscent of another, as long as it has its own spin on the subject matter.
Yes, this book has many similarities to Twilight, as they are both teen paranormal romances between a human and an immortal. But Revenants ≠ Vampires, Kate ≠ Bella, and Vincent ≠ Edward. So I don’t really mind that the story bears some resemblance to Twilight. I don’t begrudge Ms. Plum her inspiration (if indeed Twilight was her inspiration — I haven’t asked her, so I don’t know), because I honestly think genuine new ideas are a dying breed. If we demanded all books were utterly unique, there wouldn’t be much to read.
That said, while I don’t mind that Die for Me resembled Twilight, I also can’t help but compare the two in terms of what I liked and didn’t like.
Winner: Die for Me
I liked Kate. She seemed a relatively level-headed teen who tried to think through the bizarre situation she was in. Yes, she had her share of caution-to-the-wind “but I’m just so in love” moments, but mostly she tried to actually use her brain and make logical choices. She tried not to let her relationship with Vincent define her (although ultimately, it pretty much did), and didn’t turn into a puddle of goo every time he looked at her.
I also loved the Parisian setting. I’ve got to be honest: I’ve been to Paris, and I wasn’t all that thrilled with it. But I would love to go to the Paris that’s described in this book. Ms. Plum beautifully paints a picture of Parisian culture and nightlife that’s vivid and lush.
I enjoyed the Revenants mythology. It was a unique and intriguing (not to mention far less gross) take on the traditional zombie/vampire theme. I liked that most of the time, they appeared utterly human and didn’t have any defining [cough*sparkly*cough] characteristics. That made it a lot more believable that they were just walking around in public, mingling with the humans. And the “rules” of their existence made sense within the context of the story, which is always a must for me to enjoy a paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi anything.
And overall, I liked Ms. Plum’s writing style. She chose her words well and her writing style had a nice flow to it.
Oh, and the cover art? Die for Me wins, no contest. So pretty.
I’ve got to admit: while I would never put Twilight up there as the greatest romantic literature ever (Jane Austen would roll over in her grave), Stephenie Meyer had a knack for conveying the belly-fluttery feeling of first infatuation (I’m not going to call it love. I’m not.) She was really good at putting those swoony feelings into words. And Amy Plum also does a good job, just not as good.
Stephenie Meyer also had an advantage with “the hook.” The thing that kept you needing to go to the next chapter, because you couldn’t just stop there. It’s why I tore through all 4 books of the Twilight saga in just a couple days, the same amount of time it took me to read Die for Me. I was interested, but the sense of urgency just wasn’t there.
Too Close to Call
I know that people keep saying that Kate and Vincent have a healthier relationship than Edward and Bella…but I’m just not seeing it. Both girls are kind of consumed. Both relationships go from just-met to can’t-live-without-you in a freakishly short period of time. Both guys are just a wee bit stalkerish. And if the title of the book is any indication, I’m kind of guessing that at some point, both girls are ultimately going to sacrifice their lives so they can stay with their stud.
Yeah, Kate is less dramatic than Bella. I don’t see cliff jumping in her immediate future. And if Vincent left her, she’d probably be okay. Eventually. But it doesn’t change the fact that Kate basically clings to Vincent as the most/only important thing in her life.
A couple other thoughts:
It’s out in full force in Die for Me. I have to admit, I’m one of those people that’s bothered by it, but also accepts it as a necessary evil in YA. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that Kate and Vincent’s relationship is realistic — I know that instant attraction takes place in real life, but the can’t-live-without-you super-devotion that develops in an extremely short period of time…I’m not convinced that it’s entirely realistic (although author Amy Plum thinks it is, which explains why it’s there).
First of all, I saw the bad guy coming from a mile away. It seemed like the reveal of the bad guy was supposed to be somewhat shocking, but there was some extremely heavy foreshadowing that made it…not.
Then when it came down to the final showdown, everything felt a little too convenient. Of course things are possible with Kate and Vincent that haven’t ever been possible for anyone, ever. Because they’re just so deeply bonded after knowing each other a couple months, more than people who have been in love for decades. Of course. *sigh*
On the one hand, I get that it’s probably not as much fun to write/read about a “normal” relationship where they have to deal with the situations they’re in with whatever skills they already possessed (or didn’t possess). But on the other hand, why is this relationship so much stronger than other human-revenant relationships? They don’t know each other all that well, haven’t known each other all that long, and I don’t buy that their instant chemistry trumps another couple’s decades of intimacy.
I still found the end of the book exciting and mostly satisfying. I just kind of wish the way it got there didn’t feel a bit contrived.
I liked Die for Me. I just didn’t love it. And since it is bound to be directly compared to Twilight (it’s even being marketed as “the next Twilight” and fans are told “if you liked Twilight, you’ll love Die for Me”), I can’t help but try to think about which one I enjoyed reading more.
And honestly, even though I will be the first to admit that Die for Me is technically superior and has far fewer frustrating elements…I have to give the edge to Twilight. It had that pull, that sense of urgency that kept me reading late into the night even though I had a newborn baby who I just knew was going to wake up at 4 a.m. I didn’t feel that with Die for Me. It was just…good.
I still am interested in reading the sequel, Until I Die. Just because book 1 resembled Twilight doesn’t mean the entire series will, and I think I would probably enjoy it more if my mind wasn’t constantly drawing comparisons between the two. And again, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Die for Me. It just didn’t sweep me up and enthrall me like I wanted it to.
Content Guide: Contains violence, death, wartime images, mild sexual content.